Difference Of Magic Johnson Vs Steph Curry: Careers, Honors, Awards & More 2022

In this blog, we will compare the two basketball superstars, Magic Johnson and Steph Curry. Both players have had incredible careers, but who is the better player? We will take a look at their stats, accomplishments, and impact on the game to try to answer this question.

Magic Johnson Vs Steph Curry

steph curry vs magic johnson

NBA Championships and Seasons

Stephen Curry Magic Johnson
NBA Championships 4 5
NBA Seasons 13 13
Playoffs Played 8 13
All-Star Games 8 12

Honors and Awards

Stephen Curry Magic Johnson
Season MVP 2 3
Finals MVP 1 3
All-NBA First Team 4 9
All-NBA Teams (Total Selections) 8 10
Scoring Leader 2 0
Assists Leader 0 4
Steals Leader 1 2

Points

steph curry career high

  • Stephen Curry: 62 points (Warriors vs. Trail Blazers, January 03, 2021)
  • Magic Johnson: 46 points (Lakers vs. Kings, December 23, 1986)

Stephen Curry set a career-high in scoring while playing for the Golden State Warriors in 2020-21. The superstar point guard annihilated the Trail Blazers‘ defense, hitting 18-31 shots from the field, including 8-16 from three and 18-19 from the free-throw line. When a shooter of Curry’s quality makes 8 three-pointers, it is evident that he will easily score over 50 points, especially in today’s NBA.

The Warriors won the game 137-122 thanks to Steph’s offensive outburst. Steph has 10 games with at least 50 points in his career, but his 62-point outburst has to be one of the best performances the offensive talent has ever played.

Magic Johnson had a career-high of 46 points against the Sacramento Kings on December 23, 1986. The great point guard took more shots than normal in this regular-season matchup, going 17-36 from the field and 12-16 from the free-throw line. Amazingly, Magic only went 0-1 from the three-point range, demonstrating how different the game was in the 1980s. Magic, who is not considered a score-first player, has never scored more than 46 points and thus loses this comparison against Curry.

Advantage: Stephen Curry

Rebounds

Magic Johnson set a career-best against the Chicago Bulls

  • Stephen Curry: 14 Rebounds (Warriors vs. Kings, December 28, 2015)
  • Magic Johnson: 18 Rebounds (Lakers vs. Bulls, March 7, 1980)

Stephen Curry is considered a small-ball player. However, it may not be accurate given his height of 6’3″. The point guard has a career average of 4.6 RPG and a career-high 14-rebound performance against the Sacramento Kings on December 28, 2015. Stephen Curry actually had a terrific all-around game, scoring 23 points on 7-16 shooting from the field and dishing out ten assists. The Warriors won 122-103 thanks to Curry’s triple-double and Klay Thompson’s 29-point performance. Without question, Steph is an excellent rebounder for a point guard.

Magic Johnson set a career-best against the Chicago Bulls. This time, it takes the form of crashing the boards. The gifted point guard set a career-high with 18 rebounds while also contributing 14 points and 9 assists. A 6’9″ point guard, Magic averaged 7.2 RPG in his career. Thus he was always capable of routinely grabbing the ball off the rim and has to go down in history as one of the most exceptional board-crashing stars from his position. Magic was a truly excellent all-around player.

Advantage: Magic Johnson

Assists

Magic Johnson Assists

  • Stephen Curry: 16 Assists (Warriors against. Suns, December 27, 2013), (Warriors vs. Jazz, April 06, 2014)
  • Magic Johnson: 24 Assists (Lakers vs. Nuggets, November 17, 1989), (Lakers vs. Suns, January 09, 1990)

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors set career highs in assists twice in 2013 and 2014. Curry is regarded as a score-first player, but he is also noted for his passing ability, which is above-average.

When a score-first athlete like Curry feeds his teammates like that, a win is usually certain, and that was the case in the blowouts over the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. Curry’s career APG average is 6.5, which is respectable but falls short of Magic Johnson’s.

Magic Johnson was an all-time great playmaker and possibly the best passer of all time. The Lakers star was regarded as being an efficient playmaker, often setting up his teammates and spearheading numerous fastbreaks. Magic won four assist titles this way, so it certainly worked.

Magic possessed one of the highest basketball IQs in NBA history, which he used to rack up an incredible 24 assists against the Nuggets and Suns in 1989 and 1990, respectively.

Advantage: Magic Johnson

Steals

Magic Johnson had 9 steals in a game against the Phoenix Suns in 1981

  • Stephen Curry: 7 steals (Warriors against. Timberwolves, April 7, 2010), (Warriors vs. Clippers, December 07, 2016)
  • Magic Johnson: 9 steals (Lakers vs. Suns, November 06, 1981)

Stephen Curry, who has never been named to the All-Defensive Team, recorded a career-high seven steals in two different games. The first came in 2010 when he had seven steals against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Curry last did that in 2016, when he had 7 steals against the Los Angeles Clippers, demonstrating his ability to play passing lanes well. The point guard has a career average of 1.7 SPG, which is excellent considering he is not a defensive stopper by any means.

Magic Johnson had 9 steals in a game against the Phoenix Suns in 1981, in addition to 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 16 assists. The Suns eventually won by a two-point margin. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Magic’s career-high in steals proved insufficient. With only one All-Defensive Team selection, the point guard was not regarded to be an excellent defender, but he definitely knew how to punish the opposition for their bad handling and inability to make quality plays.

Magic was a hound for steals throughout his career, whether playing passing lanes or picking the ball in one-on-one situations, as seen by his two steals championships.

Advantage: Magic Johnson

Blocks

Magic Johnson blocked five shots in a single game

  • Stephen Curry: 2 blocks (25 times)
  • Magic Johnson has 5 blocks (Lakers vs. Spurs, November 08, 1980)

As a member of the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, at only 6’3″, was never blessed with the ability to be a shot-blocker. No point guard has ever been gifted with natural shot-blocking skill, which is why Curry never had more than two blocks in a single game during his career. He accomplished this accomplishment 25 times so that he could stretch or recover as needed. Steph has a career average of 0.2 BPG.

On November 8, 1980, Magic Johnson blocked five shots in a single game. Again, Magic was not recognized as an excellent defender, but his immense stature allowed him to block some shots on the court. Johnson has a career average of 0.4 BPG, with his best season coming in 1981, when he recorded 0.7 BPG. Without question, Magic was capable of zoning in defensively when necessary while being more focused on passing and even rebounding. Finally, Magic has more career blocks than Curry.

Advantage: Magic Johnson

3-Pointers Made

3-Pointers Made

  • Stephen Curry: 13 3-pointers made (Warriors vs. Pelicans, November 07, 2016)
  • Magic Johnson: 5 three-pointers made (Lakers vs. Clippers, April 21, 1990)

Stephen Curry hit a career-high 13 three-pointers as a member of the Golden State Warriors in a memorable performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on November 7, 2016.

It’s hardly surprising that Curry ranks second all-time in threes made in a single game, with teammate Klay Thompson holding the record with 14 made. Curry is the best shooter in history and will always have a shooting advantage over any other player. Steph has a career average of 3.8 makes from deep.

The data plainly reveal that Magic Johnson rarely took three-point attempts when he played. It was a completely different game in the 1980s and 1990s, and players never tried as many threes as modern players do. Throughout his career, Magic averaged 0.4 makes from deep. Obviously, if he played today’s game, he would have made at least one or two three-pointers each game over his career, but he was nowhere like the shooter that Curry is.

Advantage: Stephen Curry

Field Goals Made

  • Stephen Curry: 20 Field Goals (Warriors vs. Magic, February 25, 2016)
  • Magic Johnson: 18 Field Goals (Lakers vs. Pistons, January 09, 1982)

Stephen Curry’s 62-point effort did not include a lifetime high in field goals. Rather, it arrived in the form of a 51-point performance against the Orlando Magic. Steph shot 20-27 from the field, including 10-15 from behind the three-point line.

Making ten three-pointers is obviously a difficult feat, but Step makes it look so effortless. In a virtuoso performance, the point guard also had 7 rebounds and 8 assists, leading the Warriors to a 130-114 victory.

Magic Johnson set a career-high with 18 field goals in a game against the Detroit Pistons during the 1982 season. The Lakers veteran was just unconscious because he played with efficiency and aggression on his route to a 40-point, 10-rebound, and 9-assist effort. When Magic was on fire, he was known to make shots consistently, and on that occasion, the legend was on another level offensively, making 18 out of 23 shots. However, his career-high does not overtake Stephen Curry’s.

Advantage: Stephen Curry

Free Throws Made

Magic was a very good free-throw shooter

  • Stephen Curry made 18 free throws (Warriors vs. Trail Blazers, January 03, 2021)
  • Magic Johnson: 19 Free Throws (Lakers vs. Mavericks, April 09, 1990)

In terms of overall points in a single game, Stephen Curry surpassed Magic Johnson, although he made one fewer free throws for a career-high in a single game than the Lakers’ star. In January 2021, the point guard made 18 foul shots on 19 attempts against the Portland Trail Blazers. Unsurprisingly, Curry set a career-high with 62 points and led all scorers in the game. Not to mention, Curry led the Golden State Warriors to a 137-122 triumph. Still, Magic has a free-throw advantage over Curry.

Over his career, Magic was a very good free-throw shooter, averaging 84.8% from the line and hitting over 90% in two seasons. As proven by his performance on April 9, 1990, against the Dallas Mavericks, the point guard was able to attract contact and head to the line. Magic attempted 22 shots, 19 of which he made. In a 113-106 win against the opponent, the point guard had 38 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Without question, Magic’s proficiency from the line effectively influenced the outcome.

Advantage: Magic Johnson

Turnovers

Turnovers

  • Stephen Curry: 11 turnovers (Warriors vs. Clippers, October 31, 2013)
  • Magic Johnson: 11 turnovers (Lakers vs. Trail Blazers, October 21, 1980), (Lakers vs. Warriors, February 11, 1986), (Lakers vs. Mavericks, April 15, 1991)

Stephen Curry is similar to other all-time great offensive players in terms of the aggressiveness he has had to deal with throughout his career, which is why he has an average of 3.1 turnovers per game. Curry had a career-high 11 turnovers in a single game against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013.

As expected, the Clippers were able to put Steph Curry in awkward positions and take advantage, winning 126-115 thanks to a great performance by Chris Paul. Despite this, Curry tied Magic Johnson’s career high with 11 turnovers.

Magic Johnson had a career turnover rate of 3.9 per game, owing to the fact that he was a high-usage player who was obliged to create offense for his team by scoring or creating for teammates. Of course, Johnson was eager to make the spectacular pass, which could result in turnovers if it wasn’t effective. On three occasions, the Magic had 11 turnovers in a single game, matching Stephen Curry’s career high. Overall, this category is balanced.

Advantage: Even

Scoring

Let’s start with the premise that Curry is the best shooter of all time. If we can establish that, it will be difficult for Magic to win this category.

Curry’s 62.4 true shooting percentage ranks highest among the 420 NBA players with at least 1,000 career three-point tries. But that’s not even the most impressive aspect.

Curry’s output is mind-boggling. In his career, he has averaged 8.6 three-point attempts per 36 minutes. The remaining top 20 in true shooting % combine for 4.1 attempts per 36 minutes.

Steve Novak is the only member of that group who comes close in terms of attempts per 36 minutes. But he took less than a fifth of Curry’s total attempts, and catch-and-launch was nearly all he did (77.9 percent of his career attempts were from three, which ranks first all-time).

stephen curry turnovers per game

Run the same search (minimum 1,000-lifetime three-point tries) for effective field-goal %, and Curry is third, trailing Novak and Joe Harris, both of whom produced significantly fewer opportunities for themselves than Curry. He is third in three-point percentage after his mentor Steve Kerr and Hubert Davis. He’s tied for top in free-throw % with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

Unfortunately, we cannot compare the following numbers to those of previous players. Back then, data was just not tracked. But if you watch the footage on Novak, Kerr, and Davis, you won’t see many dribble pull-ups.

Curry, on the other side, has been completely insane with them throughout his career. For the last six seasons (as far back as the data goes), these are his effective field-goal percentages on pull-up jumpers:

  • 2018-19: 56.2 (first among players with at least 100 three-point attempts)
  • 2017-18: 59.9 (first)
  • 2016-17: 55.2 (second)
  • 2015-16: 61.9 (first, and 9.6 points ahead of second)
  • 2014-15: 55.7 (first)
  • 2013-14: 54.5 (first)

Now, scoring entails much more than just shooting.

There is the option to make one’s own shot. Curry can do it, according to the stats above.

There’s also the matter of getting to the rim. Curry is underappreciated in that city. In his career, he has made 63.8 percent of his three-foot tries and averages 1.9 makes per game. Kyrie Irving, widely regarded as one of the league’s top finishers, has shot 60.0 percent from the field and averaged 2.7 points per game.

Curry’s output is staggering. He averages 8.6 three-point attempts per 36 minutes in his career. The remaining top 20 in true shooting percentage average 4.1 attempts every 36 minutes.

Steve Novak is the only player in the group who comes close in terms of attempts per 36 minutes. He did, however, take fewer than a fourth of Curry’s total attempts, and he did almost entirely catch-and-launch (77.9 percent of his career attempts were from three, which ranks first all-time).

magic vs curry

When you run the same search for effective field-goal % (minimum 1,000-lifetime three-point attempts), Curry comes in third, trailing Novak and Joe Harris, both of whom produced significantly fewer opportunities for themselves than Curry. He ranks third in three-point percentage, after only his coach Steve Kerr and Hubert Davis. He is tied for top in free-throw % with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

Unfortunately, we can’t compare the figures here to those of previous players. The data was just not tracked back then. But if you go back and watch the footage on Novak, Kerr, and Davis, you won’t see many dribble pull-ups.

Curry, on the other side, has been completely insane with them throughout his career. For the last six seasons (as far back as the data goes), these are his effective field-goal percentages on pull-up jumpers:

  • 2018-19: 56.2 (first among players with at least 100 three-point attempts)
  • 2017-18: 59.9 (first)
  • 2016-17: 55.2 (second)
  • 2015-16: 61.9 (first, and 9.6 points ahead of second)
  • 2014-15: 55.7 (first)
  • 2013-14: 54.5 (first)

Now, scoring entails much more than just shooting.

There is the option to make one’s own shot. Curry can do it, according to the stats above.

There’s also the matter of getting to the rim. Curry is underappreciated in that city. In his career, he has made 63.8 percent of his three-foot tries and averages 1.9 makes per game. Kyrie Irving, widely regarded as one of the league’s top finishers, has shot 60.0 percent from the field and averaged 2.7 points per game.

Passing

There is no need for extensive study here. Johnson’s status as the game’s greatest passer may be as widely regarded as Curry’s as the game’s greatest shooter.

Take a peek at this highlight reel of his best ten assists in the league:

Johnson was a master of the ball. And his height allowed him to see angles that most point guards do not.

The Ringer’s Haley O’Shaughnessy said, “No stat really conveys the visionary behind those record-breaking dimes, a twisted 6’9″ Magic tossing a bounce pass mid-transition to James Worthy underneath.” “The defense was always a step behind, as was the audience, whipping their collective heads to trail the ball.”

Passing

Mr. O’Shaughnessy is correct. Numbers don’t fully represent Magic’s abilities as a passer. In general, numbers struggle to accurately assess a player’s ability level. Assists do not provide the entire picture. But let’s take a look at a few.

  • 11.2 assists per contest (first all-time)
  • In the postseason, he averaged 12.4 assists per game (first)
  • 40.9 percent of assists (seventh)
  • In the postseason, he had a 42.2 assist percentage (third)
  • The average relative assist is plus-8.4

Magic’s death was the driving force behind the Showtime Lakers’ success. We haven’t seen anything quite like that until now. Although LeBron James and Ben Simmons are good friends, the game has grown more equitable in terms of who runs individual possessions.

Magic’s skill, paired with the number of opportunities he had to use it, may never be duplicated.

Curry will not be the one to do it.

He’s an eager and likely underappreciated passer. But he’s nowhere near Magic here.

  • 6.6 assists per contest (37th all-time)
  • 6.3 assists per game in the postseason (32nd) (32nd)
  • 31.5 percent of assists (42nd)
  • In the postseason, he had a 28.0 assist percentage (33rd)
  • The average relative assist is plus-4.1.

Again, when studying passers, assist numbers do not convey the complete picture. Curry has his own highlight packages full of gleaming dimes. However, the data we have definitely favored Magic.

FAQs

Is Stephen Curry the best point guard of all time?

The historical consensus tends to rank Magic Johnson as the greatest point guard of all time. When CBS Sports ranked our top 15 players of all time, Johnson came in fifth while Curry finished 13th.

Who is better, Larry Bird or Stephen Curry?

Stephen Curry, we can see that Larry Bird has ten awards in contrast to Stephen Curry’s six awards. Larry Bird has 3 Championship, 2 Finals MVPs, 3 Regular Season MVPs, 1 Rookie of the Year, and 1 Hall of Fame, while Stephen Curry has 3 Championship, 2 Regular Season MVPs, 1 Scoring Title

Is Steph Curry better than Kobe?

NBA Twitter reacts as stats show that Stephen Curry is a better performer than Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals. According to stats, Stephen Curry (28 games) has a higher PPG, APG, RPG, and even a better FG%/3PT%/FT% split while playing lesser minutes than The Black Mamba (37 games) in all of their NBA Finals appearances.

Conclusion

In short, we can see that both Magic Johnson and Steph Curry are great basketball players. They both have different playing styles and have had success in their careers. However, when comparing the two, it is clear that Magic Johnson is the better player. He has more championships, more MVPs, and more individual awards.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.